Protesters confront police during a demonstration against tuition fee hikes in Victoriaville, Quebec, May 4, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
VICTORIAVILLE, QUE. - Two people remain in serious condition with head trauma after a protest outside a Quebec Liberal Party convention Friday evening turned into a riot.
Six protesters and three provincial police officers were brought to hospital after the protest ended on Friday at around 9:30 p.m. Quebec health authorities said during a Saturday morning press conference. They said they feared for the life of one of the injured.
Provincial police said they arrested 106 people Friday, after one of the most violent protests since the student strike began over 80 days ago. The violence occurred despite the fact that talks have resumed between government officials and student leaders.
Police said four people were arrested outside the convention centre, while 102 people were intercepted on busses that were leaving the city. Police said those arrested could be charged with participating in a gathering deemed illegal by police and with mischief.
Others could face more serious charges including assaulting a police officer and assault with a weapon.
Police said three people were arrested Saturday morning.
Quebec Liberal Party officials moved their three-day policy convention from Montreal to the town of Victoriaville, Que., about 150 km east of Montreal, in order to avoid large-scale demonstrations. The move was in vain.
Police said some of the hundreds of protesters who were bused into the city on Friday afternoon tore down a security barrier that surrounded the convention centre.
The protest was then declared an illegal gathering and uniformed provincial police officers were replaced by the force's riot squad who started launching tear gas to disperse the crowd. Shortly after, police declared the protest a riot.
Police said protesters threw pieces of concrete, billiard balls and other projectiles towards riot squad officers.
Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc, who was at the convention, said someone could have been killed.
"Nothing justifies throwing concrete blocks," he said Saturday morning.
Provincial police spokesperson Jean Finet said that one officer was surrounded Friday evening by protesters and was jumped on and kicked repeatedly.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest called student leaders as well as heads of several large labour associations for a meeting in Quebec City hours before the start of the convention. Talks started at 4 p.m. Friday and continued Saturday.
Student leaders briefly left the meeting room Friday evening to appeal for calm, after learning that the Victoriaville protests turned violent.
The mayor of Victoriaville, Alain Rayes, called for calm during a Saturday morning press conference. "The weekend is not over," he said.
The Liberal Party policy convention continues Saturday and runs through to Sunday.
Tens of thousands of Quebec students have been on strike since the government announced it would raise tuition by 75%.